Retina display is a brand name and a trademark used by Apple for screens with high resolution and pixel density. Although the company does not provide specific definition and technical specifications, the general idea is straightforward: A screen display having a resolution and pixel density high enough to leave a person unable to discern individual pixels at a normal viewing angle. A Retina display is thereby both a marketing term and a technology.
Steve Jobs first launched the Retina display as a feature of the iPhone 4 during the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June 2010. The former Apple founder and former chief executive describe the new iOS smartphone as having a screen as having a screen with so many pixels packed closely together that they become imperceptible to the human eye at a distance of 12 inches. This phone had a resolution of 960×640 at 326 pixel-per-inch.
Subsequent Apple products, including the MacBook Pro with Retina, the new MacBook, iterations to the iPhone, newer iPad generations and models, and monitors now feature the Retina display. The pixel density varies depending on the size of the screen. Bigger screens from monitors and MacBook devices have lower pixel density because users would normally use them from a further distance as compared to smaller screens found in the iPhone and iPad.
The Retina display lives up to the marketing hype nonetheless. With high resolution and pixel density, products that feature these display specifications offer an immersive user interface. There are some compromises still. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of Retina display:
Advantages of Retina display
1. Superior user experience compared to inferior displays: Screen displays with lower resolution and pixel density are common in low-end devices because of cost implications. But the viewing experience suffers. Images appear murky due to discernible pixels and poor colour reproduction.
A device that features a Retina display has stunning clarity. The high resolution and pixel density result in extremely crisps images with smooth curves and sharp fine prints. This display specification is suited for consuming contents such as web articles, eBooks, images, videos, and games. It is also best suited for creative professionals who can take advantage of finer image details for their graphic design and photo editing requirements.
2. Higher resolution means more display information: The Retina display is able to flash more information compared to displays with lower resolution. A user for instance can open apps side-by-side on a laptop with a Retina display without diminished image quality. This is also true for bigger Retina monitors with higher resolutions.
It is also important to note that most websites are designed with a minimal resolution in mind. Opening standard websites in a smartphone or table with lower resolution would require zooming in to discern the specific details of the content. An iPhone or an iPad with Retina display renders this website with stunning clarity. Reading on a Retina display is tantamount to reading printed contents.
3. All of the advantages of IPS screen technology: A Retina display is just a marketing term for an Apple-branded IPS screen display that features high resolution and pixel density. This essentially means that the Retina display is just an exclusive term used by Apple to refer to their high quality IPS screen display.
Thus, this display has all the advantages of IPS screen technology to include wider viewing angle, better colour reproduction and representation, intense white colours, and better response times.
4. Advantages of Retina display over AMOLED display: The AMOLED display technology is the closest rival to high-quality IPS screens such as Retina displays. This technology has been popularised by Samsung and has since been features in mid-range to high-range smartphones and tabled devices.
But this screen display has some advantages over AMOLED. Under bright outdoor lights or direct sunlight, the Retina display is more viewable or readable than an AMOLED screen because of a built-in backlight. A Retina display also has a considerably lengthier lifespan than AMOLED. Take note that an AMOLED display has short lifespan because the organic constituents tend to degrade faster.
5. Reduced eyestrain due to clearer and sharper images: People who spend hours in front of their tablet or computer devices suffer from eyestrains. A higher resolution and pixel density can reduce this by ensuring that users would not exert too much effort in focusing their eyes on a particular area in their screens.
It is worth reiterating that the idea behind a Retina display is to have a resolution and pixel density so high that a person is unable to discern individual pixels from a distance of 12 inches. When using a MacBook Pro Retina for example, there is no need for this user to draw his or her eyes closer to the screen. Images look clear and sharp. This is true for both near-sighted and far-sighted individuals.
Disadvantages of Retina display
1. Devices with Retina display are expensive. The Retina display is a common fixture in recent Apple devices such as the new MacBook and the latest iPhone. And these products are expensive due in part to the employed screen technology.
As backgrounder, producing IPS screen displays is more expensive than producing a TN LCD because of the involved engineering complexity. A high-quality IPS screen such as a Retina display is essentially costlier.
2. Consumers more power than AMOLED or TN screens: One of the disadvantages of IPS screen technology as compared to TN and AMOLED is power consumption. A typical IPS screen requires 15 percent more power than TN. It also needs a strong backlight unlike an AMOLED display to improve screen clarity. This requirements results in higher power consumption and faster battery drainage.
3. Some apps and web contents are not optimised for a Retina display: Manufacturing a Retina display generally involves doubling or tripling the number of pixels in each direction. This results in a screen with densely packed pixels. While the Retina display has become common in recent Apple products, some apps are not optimised to take advantage of screens with high resolution and pixel density. Non-optimised apps would appear pixelated and slightly distorted in Retina display devices.